Tim Eyman fights to prevent constitutional change to initiative process

Jan 28, 2015, 5:52 AM | Updated: 1:02 pm
Initiative activist Tim Eyman is leading the fight against a proposed constitutional amendment requiring expensive initiatives include a way to pay for them. (AP file)
(AP file)

Tim Eyman has clashed with the legislature repeatedly over the years with many of the initiatives he’s spearheaded. But now the Mukilteo activist is leading a new fight over what he said is an assault on the entire initiative process.

Nearly 40 senators from both sides of the aisle have signed on to a proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent ballot initiatives from being filed unless supporters also include a way to pay for it.

“Very clearly there are a lot of politicians who don’t like the initiative process and they are jumping on the anti-initiative bandwagon to shut the whole thing down,” said Eyman.

The measure was introduced by Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) who said it was sparked by the passage of Initiative 1351 in November — a measure that would decrease class sizes and is projected to cost about $2 billion through the middle of 2017.

“The citizen initiative process in this state is sacred,” Fain told the Associated Press’ Rachel La Corte. “But 1351 provided a very high-profile example that it’s not working the way it’s intended to. This is a fix that will help the initiative process work better.”

Backers of initiatives such as many championed by Eyman that would eliminate specific taxes also wouldn’t be allowed to collect signatures if the measure doesn’t specify which state programs would be removed or cut.

Senate Joint Resolution 8201, which has a long list of bipartisan co-sponsors, would apply to all initiatives whose costs were determined to fall outside of the state’s four-year balanced budget requirement.

The measure directs the secretary of state, under advice of the attorney general, to determine whether proposed initiatives exceed that budget requirement.

But Eyman argues the measure is actually a veiled attempt by lawmakers from both parties to sabotage the initiative process, because the determination of cost is too subjective.

“If the government says no your initiative doesn’t fiscally balance, you’re done. There’s no appeal process, it’s just over,” said Eyman. “The reality is this bill would give the government the power to decide whether or not an initiative was even allowed to be filed in the state of Washington, and that is really dangerous.”

Eyman is trying to mobilize the thousands of supporters who’ve backed many of his previous efforts to lobby the legislature and convince lawmakers to stop pressing the measure.

In a letter sent statewide last week, he argued a number of popular initiatives passed over the years would have been subject to the new measure and easily determined to not meet budgetary muster – effectively killing them. And he said it’s not just initiatives he led:

The Public Disclosure Act, woman’s right to vote, marijuana regulation, Top Two Primary, lower car tabs, state spending limits, liquor privatization, gun background checks, clean energy, property tax limits, smoking ban, limits on affirmative action, charter schools, higher minimum wage, doctor assisted suicide, and many more. Under this bill, every single one of them could have been blocked for non-compliance under this requirement and there would be no recourse for the citizens.

Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who is one of the more than three dozen co-sponsors, said that voters need to be faced with the same choices that lawmakers are when contemplating whether to create programs or eliminate taxes.

“From my perspective, the proposed constitutional amendment is really a way of respecting voters by giving them honest information and honest choices about the cost of their choices through the initiative process,” said Pedersen.

To pass a constitutional amendment, the Legislature must approve the measure by a two-thirds majority and then it goes to the people for a simple majority vote.

While a majority of senators are backing the proposal, it would have a tougher time in the House. Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina), the chief budget writer, told the Associated Press he’s willing to consider the measure if it makes it to the House, but has reservations.

“I’m generally not in favor of amending the Constitution to limit the rights of the people,” said Hunter.

Eyman plans to keep up the pressure on lawmakers in hopes of preventing the measure from making it to the Senate floor. He said he’s hopeful when the voters realize what’s at stake, they’ll take up the fight.

“The reality is the initiative process is very much like free speech. You have to be able to allow voices that even you disagree with. It’s not like they’re targeting specifically our initiatives, they’re shutting it down for everybody. Legislators down in Olympia make 99.9 percent of the laws. We don’t want them to have 100 percent monopoly,” said Eyman.

Reporting by the Associated Press’ Rachel La Corte is included in this report.

Local News

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Pierce County deputies investigating death of 11-year-old

Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies said they were investigating the death of an 11-year-old girl in Midland, WA.
1 day ago
Gee Ursula One Seattle...
KIRO Newsradio staff

Thousands of volunteers give back to the community for One Seattle Day

Thousands of volunteers gave back to the community on Saturday for One Seattle Day, including KIRO Newsradio's own Gee and Ursula Show.
1 day ago
(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

Mayor’s search for permanent Police Chief looms over Seattle amid depleting law enforcement numbers

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recently consulted with a hiring firm as the decision to choose the next Chief of Police heats up.
3 days ago
Seattle Sun...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Sunny skies, warm temperatures forecast for western Washington this weekend

Sunny skies and warm temperatures are forecast for much of western Washington, with some areas expected to reach temps in the 70s.
3 days ago
Student STEM...
Nicole Jennings

From athletes to mathletes: STEM Signing Day shines light on WA scholars

STEM Signing Day gives stellar science, technology, engineering, and math scholars a chance to shine in the same way as high school athletes.
3 days ago
Prison 900x506...
MyNorthwest Staff

Governor Inslee cancels parole determination for triple murderer

Governor Inslee has cancelled an order that granted parole to Timothy Pauley, who had been incarcerated for three counts of first degree murder in 1981.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Tim Eyman fights to prevent constitutional change to initiative process